UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Ray Jones of Hazelton, B.C., addresses commissioners about proposed changes to the United Church crest on Sunday, Aug. 12. Photo by Mike Milne

Day Two

Commissioners vote to change church crest and update doctrinal statements

By David Wilson and Mike Milne

In a decision that was literally symbolic as well as figuratively so, The United Church of Canada took action to redress an old injustice against Aboriginal people during the first full day of its 2012 General Council meeting in Ottawa.

Commissioners gathered at Carleton University overwhelmingly voted to change the United Church’s official crest and revise the introductory sections of its book of rules to acknowledge the presence and spirituality of Aboriginal people in the church.

The move capped three years of work by a task group founded after the General Council in 2009, when commissioners in Kelowna, B.C., voted to start the process of bringing Aboriginal people into the church’s founding documents and symbols.

Task group member Ray Jones of Hazelton, B.C., told commissioners in Ottawa that the church’s predecessor denominations operated about 65 Aboriginal churches at the time The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925. Members of the Aboriginal churches were excluded from the consultations that led to church union, said Jones, as well as discussions several years later that resulted in the creation of the church crest.

Acknowledging that the United Church meets on land first occupied by indigenous people, the new crest approved by General Council replaces a blue background with yellow, black, red and white —the four traditional colours of indigenous medicine wheels. It also adds the Mohawk phrase Akwe Nia’Tetewá:neren (translated as “All my relations” ) to complement the church’s existing Latin motto, Ut omnes unum sint (“That all might be one”).

The United Church crest is used on everything from official church letterhead to coffee cups. General Secretary Nora Sanders told commissioners the new crest will be phased in to spread out the cost of switchovers.

Changes to the crest may not be finished yet. Several commissioners pointed out that the new crest does not acknowledge the Evangelical United Brethren, a small and mostly Ontario-based denomination that joined The United Church of Canada in 1968.

The decision to adopt a new crest was one of several proposals concerning the church constitution considered by commissioners on day two of the 41st General Council. In another decision, commissioners decided to add three modern statements of faith to the United Church’s Basis of Union, which acts as its constitution.

Although the year-long study process that preceded a church-wide vote last spring was “like a root canal” to some congregations, said Rev. Arlyce Schiebout, “what resulted was a spiritual experience that was even deeper than expected.”

Chair of the United Church’s theology committee, Schiebout said adopting the three faith statements — the 1940 Statement of Faith, the 1968 New Creed and the 2006 Song of Faith — as doctrine doesn’t mean United Church members have to sign on to a specific set of beliefs. Like the earlier doctrine section of the Basis of Union, the added statements are considered to be “subordinate to Scripture” as the basis for church beliefs.

Schiebout also told commissioners the vote indicates the church’s commitment not only to outline its beliefs but also “to give expression in our time and in meaningful language for our day to the . . . truth of the Gospel.”



Author's photo
David Wilson is the editor-publisher of The Observer.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image